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Coconut Cream Cake
Coconut Cream Cake – Light and fluffy coconut cake layers with a creamy coconut frosting and toasted coconut.
I love revisiting some of my older cake recipes and introducing them to so many of my new friends here. This coconut cake is a few years old and has been on my list to revisit for months now.
I originally came up with this recipe a few years ago for a friend’s wedding. I remember it being full of flavor. However, it was a little more dense than I imagine the perfect coconut cake to be. With the idea of lightening the texture a bit, this cake has been on my mind for a while now.
As I looked at my old coconut cake recipe, I spotted a major problem. The quantity was off for three 8-inch pans. I also noticed that in the original recipe, I had a lot of liquids and fats and not quite enough flour. This was probably why it was on the denser side. When I started my first round of recipe revisions, I added more flour and sugar right off the bat. I also tried using cream of coconut (the bottled kind I like for my frosting), instead of the canned coconut – simply because I love the flavor in my frosting.
However, with the addition of granulated sugar and the bottled cream of coconut (which also has a lot of extra sugar), my cake sank. The flavor was awesome, but the cake sank and that was a no-go.
I cut back on the granulated sugar (which tends to weigh cakes down), took out the coconut oil (not sure it was really adding anything), and kept the bottled cream of coconut. The cake still sank a little. It was also a bit overly sweet, so I decided to go back to the canned coconut cream I originally used. The canned coconut cream isn’t as sweet, but has a delicious coconut flavor.
For round 3, I used a cup of canned coconut cream, cake flour, granulated sugar, all egg whites and a little more baking powder. This combination of ingredients are what I hoped would help get my cake to rise nicely, taste amazing, and have a light and fluffy texture.
And sure enough, success!
I am so pleased with how my new version of my Coconut Cream Cake turned out. The flavor is truly amazing and the texture is now light and fluffy! I’ve added my coconut buttercream to cover the top and sides from my Almond Joy Cake and am personally rating this cake a 10!
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Coconut Cream Cake
Yield 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake
Tender and fluffy coconut cake layers, with coconut buttercream and toasted coconut.
FOR THE COCONUT CAKE
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 whole eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (231 g) canned coconut milk (the cream and the liquid mixed together)
- 1 tablespoon (16 g) coconut emulsion
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 3 cups (339 g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
FOR THE COCONUT BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 1/4 cup (57.75 g) cream of coconut (in the bottle, not the can)
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
- 1 tablespoon (16 g) coconut emulsion
- Pinch of salt
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.
- 1 1/2 cups (225 g) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
FOR THE COCONUT CAKE
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray your pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar together on medium-high speed for two minutes.
Gradually add the egg whites and whole eggs, making sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl between additions. Mix on medium-high for 2 minutes after all the eggs are added.
Add the coconut emulsion and vanilla extract.
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Turn the mixer on low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until combined.
Evenly distribute the batter in your pans.
Bake for about 23-25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the edges of the cake start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Don't turn off your oven.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.
FOR THE COCONUT BUTTERCREAM
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and coconut cream. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, followed by the extracts and salt.
- Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir out air bubbles.
- Level each cake layer with a knife or leveling tool.
- Place your first cake layer, right-side up, on a cake plate or cake board. Cover the cake layer with about 3/4 cup frosting.
- Repeat step 2 for the second layer, and then place the final cake layer on top, bottom-side up.
- Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake to create a crumb coat. Chill the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- After the crumb coat is chilled, continue frosting the cake and decorate with toasted coconut. Alternatively, you can add the toasted coconut in between each cake layer if you don't want it on the outside of the cake.
Just so you know in the baking instructions you say to use 3 8 inch pans, but in your description you say it’s 2 8 inch pans.
Thank you! I updated it. It’s for 2 8″ pans.
Not sure what happened. I followed the directions to a T and my layers were about 1.5 inches tall. Had to go back and redo the recipe to make it 4 layers
What size pans did you use. This recipe is meant for 2 8-inch pans or 3 6-inch pans.
Hi I just wanted to add I tried this recipe today, followed it precisely, and after cutting into it threw the whole thing away. The 2 8-inch layers were nowhere near baked after 35 minutes, although the cakes were lightly browned and the tester came out clean (amount of fat in recipe?) so it seemed they had. The frosting looked great but the layers were hard as a rock and completely raw when we cut into it. Think the same recipe might not work for 6-inch pans and 8 inch pans equally. A real (embarrassing) disappointment. Possibly more testing is required before publishing.
Hi Sarah. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you. I actually did test this (as I do with all my cakes) several times when I published it a couple years ago. I’ve also had several followers have great success with the cake, but it is actually one on my list to revisit and update, so I will take a close look at everything and make sure it’s completely fool proof.
Hi I just made this and the cake layers came out really flat… like maybe only 1” high per 8-inch layer. This really surprised me given the number of egg whites. Where could I have gone wrong? Yours look so much fluffier… @Stephenie, maybe the same thing happened to you?
Where can you get coconut emulsion, Ive never heard of it. Also is the coconut cream sweetened or unsweetened? Lastly, Ive never seen the coconut cream in a bottle. I live in Atlanta and mostly shop at Krogers. Is it on the baking aisle or with the International foods?
I get my coconut emulsion at Orson Gygi but you can get it on amazon too. For the canned coconut I like Thai Kitchen and the bottled I use the brand Coco Real.
Hi! Can you say whay brand of coconut cream do you use. I have seen a lot of differences from the Asian types vs the one you get in the Hispanic isle. Thank you
I like the brand Thai Kitchen for the canned coconut and the brand Coco Real for the bottled coconut.
So where do you buy the coconut emulsion and the bottled cream of coconut and canned coconut cream? I think I have seen that even at Walmart.
Could you please take a photo of both of the coconut cream and liquid? I’m a little confused and wanted to use the correct ones.
I had some pictures on my instagram and will add them here. In the meantime, the canned coconut cream I like is Thai kitchen and the bottled is Coco Real
Do you have any advice for getting smooth buttercream? It keeps turning out grainy for me. How long should I be whipping my butter before adding powdered sugar? How long should I mix my buttercream in all? I use room temp butter. Should I be using cold butter? Doesn’t cold butter take a longer time to whip? How cold should it be? I haven’t seen any difference when using heavy cream. Should I change my powdered sugar brand to C and H to avoid graininess? What brand of powdered sugar do you use?
Yes, I sure do. I have a post about getting the perfect buttercream on my Tip Tuesday on instagram under the #CakebyCourtneyTipTuesday. I also have “buttercream” saved in my highlights on instagram too. But make sure you’re using a paddle attachment, cold butter, sifted powdered sugar, and yes, use a good brand like C and H.
This cake turned out SO DENSE for me! I don’t know what I did wrong! This is the only cake I’ve made on your site – and I’ve made a ton!! – that has caused me problems. I measured the flour like you say to, everything was room temperature, sifted, mixed exactly like you mentioned…It also took FOREVER to cook and while the outside area was good (albeit dense) the middle top portion was totally raw.
Hi Rosie. Shoot! This cake is definitely not a dense cake. It’s supposed to be light and fluffy. Based one what you said, my guess is that your oven might be broken and the temperature is off on the inside even though it says a certain degree on the screen – since it took so much longer to cook.
I made this today and it made a beautiful cake! The flavor is perfect! I cut the recipe in half and used 3-4” pans. It was just a tiny bit dry, but I’m pretty sure it’s because I overmixed it. I left the mixer on low after I added all the liquid ingredients and went to grab my baby, which took longer than anticipated. Great recipe! Your recipes always work and taste great. Thank you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The dryness was probably due to over baking it by a few minutes. Your oven may be running a little hot, which is why my suggested time was a little too much for your cake. Next time, try baking for a few minutes less.
Do you have recs for making this gluten free? Should I just sub GF flour 1:1?
Yes, I would use the brand Cup4Cup or Bob’s Red Mill One for One
Hi Courtney! I want to make this cake so much, I love coconut like crazy and the look of this cake is superb. I can’t get any coconut cream in my country unfortunately. Is there a way I could substitute it with something else “coconut”? Like coconut milk? Hope so because i want to make it. Thanks!
I think it’s definitely worth a try!
How did you toast the coconut flakes? Also my oven is not big enough to bake three layers at a time how would you recommend setting aside batter while there layers cook?
I bought pre toasted coconut 🙂 And yes, you can set one cake layer aside while you bake the others.
Okay do you remember where you got them? I can only find raw ones anything special are like the big chips 🙁
Unfortunately, I didn’t have success with this recipe. I was worried when I saw egg whites that weren’t whipped, but went ahead anyway. It tastes nice, but is a bit on the dense side and just doesn’t have a nice crumb at all.
Hmmm, it’s actually not supposed to be dense at all. There’s lot of factors that could have contributed to that happening for you and not just the egg whites.
What do you mean by coconut emulsion?
Coconut emulsion is a flavoring like an extract. It doesn’t have the alcohol content and is a creamier texture and flavor. BUt extract can be used too.
Where do you get the cream of coconut? Could you add a link? Plus the coconut emulsion?
I got it at the grocery store. I added the brands in my post – Thai Kitchen is the coconut cream in a can and coco real is the bottled coconut for the frosting. Coconut emulsion can be found on Amazon.
Do I need to do anything different with the measurements if I’m using 3 6-inch pans? Also, I live in Houston, Texas. Do I need to change the baking temp or time?
First: you do an absolutely beautiful job decorating your cakes. They are extremely clean and professional. I also make a coconut cake but use a 7 minute frosting (not as rich and heavy as a buttercream) and fill the cake with a fresh pineapple curd. I also use a coconut run in the simple syrup. Divine!
Any suggestions on making this cake gluten free? Could I just sub GF cake flour for the flour?
On your list for ingredients for the buttercream, there’s only coconut emulsion listed, but on your instructions for the buttercream, you say “followed by the extracts” so is there more than one kind that you forgot to list? Like vanilla… Thanks in advance!
sorry that’s a typo. Just emulsion.
I’m wondering which of your cakes could be made with almond flour? My roomie is on Keto and I’m praying I can do one of your cakes for her with almond flour. Thank you Courtney!
Honestly, I’ve never tried any of them with almond flour. Can you use gluten free flour?
How would you make this into only a 2 layer? Your comments say it was a 2 layer recipe but your recipe and everything else says 3… did you change it to three?
Yes i changed it. Plan on 3 layers
Hi there!! So I just made the cake it’s so so pretty!!! I ate the shavings off the top and it’s DELICIOUS! How do you suggest I store the cake? 🙂 I can leave it at room temp or should I refrigerate it? And for how long? Thank you!!!!
If you aren’t going to frost it today, double wrap it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer until an hour before you are going to frost it.
Will it ruin the frosting to use canned coconut instead of the cream of coconut from the bottle?
I haven’t tried it, but I don’t think it will ruin it – it just won’t taste the same as the one I wrote.
Hello!!! I love your website. I have made several of your cake recipes and they are a hit. I have a question regarding the coconut cake. Can I use coconut extract instead of the emulsion? If so, how much do you recommend?
Thank you for your inspiration!!
Yes. Same amount.
My question is , in the description you mentioned coconut cream in the cake, in the recipe you mentioned coconut milk. In the description you also mentioned all egg whites got you success but recipe mentions 2 whole eggs and 6 eggs white. Can you please help me with this confusion.
Follow the recipe.
Which brand of coconut emulsion do you use?
Hi Courtney! Long time stalker of your recipes here and Im finally getting a chance to make this one tomorrow for a friend and Im very excited! Can you please tell me how is this cake best served- cold or room temperature?? I have found that this can make or break a good cake experience and I want to do it justice when I serve it. Thanks!
My preference is room temp!
Made this last weekend for a party and it was universally adored. This is one of the best cakes Ive made in quite a while- and I make a lot of cake! I kept it at room temp and this was probably the closest to box mix texture Ive come- very light and fluffy crumb. Actually I think this is a better recipe than both Cooks Illustrated Fluffy and White cake!
Thank you so much!! That’s so nice of you!
Is this recipe for two 8 inch layers or three? The recipe says yield: 1 3 layer 8″ cake. So I prepped my pans and split it into 3. I thought the layers seemed a little small so I came to see if anyone else had commented and it looks like this cake recipe is actually for only 2 layers? I’m making a 2 tiered wedding cake for my sister and so I want these cake layers to be as thick as the almond poppy seed layers I already made. Could you clarify?
I’m a bit confused on the coconut cream. You added in the ingredients to mix with liquid? What liquid are you referring to?
Are you mixing regular coconut milt with cream of coconut?
I would love to make this recipe but wanted to be sure I have it as it’s suppose to be. Thanks 😋
Use the whole can.
Help! I have tried this cake twice in the past two days and it has failed me both times. I’m an at home baker, but a pretty experienced one and I’ve never had a cake fail like this. Both times it came out very thin, dense, and spongy. My mother described it as “coconut cornbread”. I followed the recipe meticulously…and ideas on what happened?
Are you using room temp ingredients? fresh baking powder? And did you mix the butter, sugar, and eggs really well until light and fluffy and nearly double in volume.
Can I add mandarin oranges to this? Will it be okay to just fold in?
If you add oranges it will be extra liquid and will take longer to bake! Just a note!
I just found you and I think I’m in love. I want to make this for my birthday next week but I’d rather do cupcakes. Would I change anything other than bake time, cupcakes usually bake at 350 for 18-20 min. Less Baking powder? TIA I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THIS!
Don’t change the recipe.
So if baking cupcakes with this recipe would you recommend the 350 temp or stay at the 325?
This cake looks amazing! Thanks d like to try to make it for Mother’s Day this weekend 🙂
I can’t seem to find the recipe for the coconut emulsion. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Can you get coconut extract? That will work too. You can also leave it out. The coconut cream creates a great flavor too.
The link to your bottled coconut cream is no longer valid. Can you provide me with another link or brand name for this product? I am not familiar with bottled coconut cream. Thank you.
It’s called coco real. In a white bottle.
I’d love your original cake recipe – the one you said was denser?? I love dense cake & I want to make this as a celebration for my cancer being in remission! Please help me!!
I don’t have it anymore! Im so sorry!